Cuba: Raul Castro’s Responsible Pragmatism

Vicente Morin Aguado

Raul Castro addresses parliament. Foto: Ismael Francisco/

HAVANA TIMES — I suspect that the many people in Cuba who do not read the papers, choosing to alienate themselves with The Voice – Kids or pirated TV shows from abroad instead, will be unaware of the Cuban president’s rather surprising speech on Sunday.

Whatever the case may be, there are parts of Raul Castro’s address worthy of highlighting, such as:

 “(…) I am of the conviction that the first step towards overcoming any problem effectively is acknowledging its existence, in all its dimensions, and looking for the causes and conditions which have brought about the phenomenon in the course of years.”

The indictment pronounced by Cuba’s current Head of State may be summarized with another statement of his:

“Thus, part of our society has come to see the practice of stealing from the State as something acceptable (…) It stands to reason that the moral rectitude and good manners of the average Cuban can only deteriorate as a result of this.”

We face a regrettable situation which had hitherto been denied – practically silenced – by Cuba’s official media: a crisis of values which has spread across the whole of society. And the problem is growing as quickly as old buildings are crumbling across Havana, ready to collapse at any moment.

Politically speaking, Raul Castro continues to insist on the subjective factor, that is to say, to appeal to people’s consciences – a throwback to socialist dogma. This, however, does not prevent him from identifying the objective causes of the crisis, which we could again summarize with specific references to his last speech:

–       Even though Cuba’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown in 2013 by 2.3 %, the family economy of average Cubans hasn’t felt this growth.

–       There is a need to re-establish a single-currency monetary system (“The two-currency system constitutes one of the greatest obstacles on the way of the nation’s progress.”).

–       The two-currency system is related to the so-called “inverted pyramid” phenomenon witnessed in Cuba, with the devaluation of professional work in comparison to manual trades.

“The victories are the fruit of hard work”

In this connection, the Cuban president again appeals to the country’s institutional frameworks, speaking in favor of written legislation, of public order as a generator of social stability. His appeals are encouraging because they are also addressed to “civil society”, including religious institutions. Never before had I heard this type of official pronouncement under socialism.

I don’t believe, as many will likely say, that this is yet another speech, to be added to the huge collection of similar government pronouncements. I feel it acknowledges our everyday reality as it has never before been recognized by those in power. It implies we cannot go back to doing things as we once did, for it recognizes what is taking place around us today.

Adherence to legal precepts will constitute a great step forward for Cuba, even for those who are opposed to the country’s political system. Even the opposition, therefore, can applaud the pronouncements of our president.

I can’t say – no one could say – whether the proposals advanced by our country’s current leader will be materialized, but I am certain Raul Castro has hit the nail on the head with respect to the reality we face today.

Of course, Raul Castro’s pragmatism is socialistic. It is aimed at preserving the revolution of which he is one of the main architects.

In an attempt to define the economic model that will result from the country’s current reform process, the Head of State stated that the public ownership of the chief means of production will be maintained, while acknowledging the validity of other forms of (non-State) economic management, affirming that economic development plans will continue to be implemented without denying the importance of market forces.

I am optimistic, because we are finally acknowledging, openly and thoroughly, the difficult situation we live in. It is, as Raul Castro rightly said, the first step towards replacing this situation with something better. Though there is much cause for irritation, I support the responsible pragmatism of our president.
Vicente Morín Aguado: [email protected]

4 thoughts on “Cuba: Raul Castro’s Responsible Pragmatism

  • If the US was a responsible nation, it would stop strangling the Cuban economy and let it rise or fall on its own merits.

  • Raul Castro’s program is neither responsible nor pragmatic. Admitting that problems exists without implementing real change to address them is more irresponsible and dogmatic.
    Raul can show no results. even after the handing out of land to new “farmers” food production is still declining. The state program to reduce the bloated state labor force with 1 million is on hold as no new jobs are created. The few non-agricultural “privatizations” to new cooperatives are a joke and have led to more unemployment as these enterprises reduce their labor force.
    Remittances and income from indentured labor are what is keeping the regime alive. Tourism gives little real income due to the need of importing everything the hotels need.

  • If Raul really was a responsible ruler, he would announce an immediate process toward free and democratic elections. And then he would step-down.

  • Vicente is suffering from Cuba’s version of Stockholm syndrome. He is giving credit to Raul for finally realizing what must be done to get out of the very crap he had a major hand in creating. Vicente supports his ‘captor’. Not only does Raul not deserve applause for this speech, he should be ‘drawn and quartered’ for having had a hand in bringing Cuba to the place that makes this speech relevant. It is often said that the day Fidel dies will be the saddest day in Cuba’s history. Posts such as Vicente’s make this easier to believe.

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